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Johnston cooks win state barbecue awards

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Johnston County residents took top honors in three of five competition categories in the 2019 Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship held Sept. 27-28 in downtown Raleigh.

Kevin Peterson of Benson won the whole hog state title and also brought home first place in the competition’s blind taste test category. This is the second time Peterson and his wife Dana, known on the competition circuit as Showtime’s Legit BBQ, won. They also claimed the championship in 2017.

Peterson beat out the defending champion, Chris Fineran of Little River, South Carolina, who took second and Billy Narron of Middlesex took home third place. Narron won the Johnston County Pig Cookin’ Contest held during the Smithfield Ham & Yam Festival in May to qualify for the championship.

Ashley Wheeler of Smokin’ Black Jack BBQ in Princeton won first place for best sauce.

Twenty-eight of the state’s top whole hog barbecue cooks filled downtown Raleigh to compete for more than $7,000 in cash prizes and the crown of 2019 whole hog barbecue state champion. The cooks qualified to compete in the championship by placing in one of 28 local competitions sanctioned by the North Carolina Pork Council.

In addition to the top culinary category, winners were also announced for best sauce, crispiest skin, blind taste and the People’s Choice Award sponsored by BQ Grills, which was determined by attendees’ votes.

State Championship

First place: Kevin Peterson, Showtime’s Legit BBQ, Benson

Second place: Chris Fineran, Beach Boys BBQ, Little River, S.C.

Third place: Billy Narron, Wicked Pig, Middlesex

Crispiest Skin

First place: Chris Fineran, Beach Boys BBQ, Little River, S.C.

Blind Taste

First place: Kevin Peterson, Showtime’s Legit BBQ, Benson

Second place: Jason Baker, Baker Boys BBQ, Goldsboro

Third place: David Grandy, Lazy Days, Morehead City

Best Sauce

First place: Ashley Wheeler, Smokin’ Black Jack BBQ, Princeton

Second place: Mark Copeland and Billy Perry, Pocosin Boys, Wilson

Third place: Brooke South, South in Your Mouth Cookin’ Team, Newport

People’s Choice

First place: Brooke South, South in Your Mouth Cookin’ Team, Newport

Second place: Justin Boswell, Busted Grills, Greenville

Third place: Kacey Field, KC-Que, Newport

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